My Bucket List of Novel Settings

I’m a bit lusty in the travel department lately, not really able to get my mind off of the frolicking in France I’ll be doing this September. However, my family will report that wanderlust and I have been BFFing hard since I got my first National Geographic in the mail at age six.

Novel writing provides the perfect excuse for exotic explorations. Geist is set in a Prunières, France, deep in the Cévennes Mountains. However, it also explores the ancient magic of Moldavia. I loved weaving the two and building on the myth of each place.

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Outside Prunières, France on the Margeride
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Outside Iaši, Romania (formerly Moldavia)

I’ve got a crazy pile of novel concepts floating around and so many fictional landscapes to explore.

Here is my Top 10 Bucket List of settings I want to use in novels:

  1. Kiev, Ukraine.

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2. El Jem, Tunisia

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El Jem is home to the second largest colosseum ever built by the Roman Empire

3. Ephesus, Turkey

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The Library of Celsus was destroyed by an alleged earthquake in 262 A.D. However, the contents of the library vanished. 

4. Wroclaw, Poland

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One of the most haunted cities in Poland, Wroclaw is steeped in legends including that of a demonic dwarf.

5. Xiaohe (Little River) Cemetery, China 小河墓地

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Before the desert, this incredible place was the site of an enormous lake and the kingdom of Shan Shan.

6. The ancient city of Merv near Mary, Turkmenistan

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Thought to be an ancient Scythian fortress, Merv is one of the most ancient sites on Earth

7. Gobekli Tepe, Turkey

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Gobekli Tepe, Turkey is considered one of the most ancient temples in the world. Remnants of 

Read THIS about it.

Day 36 – Scouting Locations

I’ve spent the last few days building out the beats for a larger project about the Sibylline. One of the big holes was an ancient, mystical location in Ukraine.

Scouting story locations is one of the most fun parts of writing despite the fact that it inevitably leads me down rabbit hole after rabbit hole of spooky, weird, and mystical places, until I look up and realize I’ve been swallowed up by ancient sites of power for like eight hours straight and really have to pee.

Anyway, welcome to my afternoon.

The following sites ended up in my top three. One is dramatic. One is a remote pile of rocks giving off meditation-level radio pulses. The last is a witch forest in the middle of Kiev.  Check them out and tell me which location you’d like to see as the setting for a story about the ancient oracular race of the Sibylline.

Here is the blurb from The Ukranian Week that drove me to this location:

Alim’s Ravine stretches along the Kacha Canyon shaped by the turbulent stream Kacha in the soft substance of the inner ridge of the Crimean Mountains. The Kacha Canyon is believed to be one of the most difficult places to reach in Ukraine. The rocky slopes of the marlstone and limestone canyon are dotted with stone capes hanging over numerous natural grottos. Many thousand years ago, these caves sheltered primitive humans. Another ancient site in the Kacha Canyon is a medieval cave monastery town called Kachi-Calyon founded in the 5th century by monks who fled from Byzantium.

Alim’s Ravine stole the spotlight in the 1950-1980s after researchers discovered a human settlement from the Middle Stone Age and unique petroglyphs created there over 5,000 years ago.

Despite its numerous natural, historical and archeological attractions, Alim’s Ravine has long been quite infamous due to the large number of people who get lost there, even though the route is a piece of cake for novice hikers. According to numerous tourists who have lost their way there, some unknown force made them wander for hours around one spot. There is a cave in the ravine called Alim’s cave that, according to legend, is home to the spirit of Alim, a Crimean Tatar version of Robin Hood. A few decades ago, people began to disappear there. As a result, the entrance to the infamous cave was closed down. 

Today, Alim’s Ravine is extremely popular among mystery hunters. Psychics claim the ravine is a center of powerful energy that can do both good and harm to an unprepared tourist.

The Stone Tomb near Melitopol is a bit less dramatic in looks but read on to learn about the history behind this place of extreme magic.

This extremely mystical place is an ancient site that is part of the world cultural heritage located on the right bank of the Molochna river near the village of Terpinnia (“patience”) in Melitopol County, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

The Stone Tomb covers nearly three hectares and features rocks reaching up to 12 meters in height. This large and mysterious stone hill was a cult location for many ancient peoples and tribes who lived or crossed what is now Southern Ukraine. The Stone Tomb was used as a temple by hunters during the Bronze Age, as well as by Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns, Goths, Pechenegs, Khazars and the Cumans (called Polovtsi in Ukrainian). Years of research have revealed several thousand petroglyphs in the site’s many grottos and caves. They are unique samples of primitive art, some dated to the Stone Age by researchers. Some Ukrainian and foreign archeologists have interpreted the petroglyphs as proto-Sumerian writing, which has helped the place to attract so much interest. Debates about the samples of the oldest writing in the world at the Stone Tomb still continue.

The Nazis considered the Stone Tomb to be the oldest site of the Aryans.From 1942-1943, the site was studied by the founder and leader of Ahnenerbe, a mystical Nazi organization focused on unearthing the occult experience of past civilizations. According to some data, the Nazis did not leave the place empty-handed, taking a few dozen tablets containing the oldest writing ever found on Earth. In addition to this, the Stone Tomb possesses a special energy. The area around it radiates pulses at a radio frequency of 5Hz! Energy bursts this powerful appear on aerial photographs of the Earth’s surface as circles. Geologists and physicists refer to them as mantle canals “drilled through” by what look like small tornados in the gravitational field radiating out to the planets from the Sun. Numerous electric devices have detected a super-powerful energy field there. Video devices often break and turn on and off on their own in the area of the Stone Tomb. All this is only a small portion of the mysteries hidden there.

According to an ancient Slavic legend, a serpent is twined around the earth and Lysa Hora, or Bald Mountain, is the spot where the serpent bites its tail.

Since ancient times, Lysa Hora has held great spiritual meaning for our ancestors, who had a pagan altar and shrine there. Even after Christianity was violently imposed on the Kyivan Rus, Lysa Hora remained a shrine for the followers of ancient beliefs. Later, part of it was annexed to the Pechersk Monastery to host the apiaries of Christian monks. Municipal authorities bought the land in the mid-19th century and began the construction of the Lysohirsky Fortress there in 1872. It was planned as part of a complex fortification system called the Kyiv Fortress. In the late 19th century, the Lysohirsky Fortress lost its defensive function and was turned into a prison where “state prisoners” would later be executed. In the 1930s, Lysa Hora became an underground military plant and a tank base during the German occupation. Retreating, the German army destroyed it. A missile unit was located here until the mid-1970s. In the early 1980s, the mount  was granted natural park status.

However, the park is a rarely visited part of town. The cautious Kyivites are afraid to venture far into the dense, dark forest, and with good reason. Those who dare to step foot on Lysa Hora claim that they feel extremely uncomfortable there. It feels like dozens of eyes are watching from beyond the park’s trees, and the stares are almost palpable. During the time of the Lysohirsky Fortress, the unit commander issued a strange instruction ordering officers “to warn the soldiers who go on guard to not be afraid of strange noises; they come from the wind and night birds.” Researchers claim they have found many reports from German soldiers describing abnormal and paranormal phenomena they witnessed. Soldiers would often go insane or commit suicides there. The infamous Lysa Hora deserves its evil reputation.